Often times I feel like a bad Buddhist. I’m a bad Buddhist because I don’t meditate enough. I’m a bad Buddhist because I don’t have a sangha, Buddhist community. I’m a bad Buddhist probably for many of the same reasons people of other faiths see themselves as being less than what their scriptures say they should be. But one of the main principles that makes me a bad Buddhist is my fear of being present. Being present means I have to act and pay attention. Being present means I actually have to move forward and to be honest, I’m freaked out I’m going to move forward down a path that really wasn’t made for me in the first place. So instead of being present, I run with the the aid of alcohol and other drugs that don’t allow for any kind of movement. Staying still is me running from myself, running from now.
When I decided to become sober again, my focus was on no longer doing hard drugs. I was still drinking from time to time and enjoyed some herbal refreshments as well i.e. weed. I didn’t see either as a road block along my path until I couldn’t get any traction going. It can be true for some that smoking weed helps their creativity and motivation. For me, I just wanted to sleep and eat which is all I could muster even with the will for another course of action. Smoking has cost me time with friends and family, writing ideas I can’t get back, and hard work with my fitness and eating as I have put weight back on I didn’t want to see again. Drinking pretty much did the same, now with me seeing no other option than to completely discontinue all intoxicates. This is a great step towards becoming a better Buddhist but a horrible thing if you aren’t ready for what is waiting for you on the other side.
Without those intoxicates, I am left only with my thoughts and my path; a path I’m not too sure I’m meant to follow and thoughts I’m only someone able to handle alone. The addition of a Sangha as well as going to NA and AA continue to spring to mind, but being slightly type A, I feel I can handle it all myself, well mostly. When I handle things myself, I tend to enlist the aid of a friend of two that has full knowledge of what my problems are and my goals during a prescribed period of time. For the most part it tends to be successful, but what is missing is structure. What I also forget to realize is the lives my friends have that don’t include me. While they are there for me as much as they can, they have friends, family, and their own struggles to deal with, and they need time to take care of themselves which could be during a moment I’m also in need. In those moments, the temptation to fall back into past behavior is strong, and with them being busy I have often picked up a bottle or pipe because I wasn’t able to deal.
The truth is I realized I had not been without some intoxicate in my system for four years. Yes it was off and on but the majority of the last four years I was not fully myself ( and you call yourself a Buddhist). I actually still do. It is because of those moments where I was sober that I was able to look back and use my practice to decide on more. It was in those moments I began to lengthen the sober times to a point now where I have less cravings and am dealing with my demons in a better manner. It’s now that I’m looking for a Sangha and now I’m serious about NA and AA. It’s Now that I’m no longer running and for me I know the limited Buddhist practice I have been engaged in for years has been the key.
Many of us are running from something using alcohol, drugs, food, and other distractions to keep us from dealing with the unknown. No one can tell you when it’s right to finally put down those hindrances and become who you were meant to be, but there will come a time and trust me, you will make it through. The answers you receive may not be what you were hoping for but they are answers you can use to get where you really want to be. Stop running.